The U.K.'s University of Exeter is leading an international project that will use unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) remote sensing to investigate the Amazon rainforest.
The European Research Council project aims to study how the Amazonian land was used during the late pre-Columbian period (the last 3,000 years leading up to Christopher Columbus’s voyages of 1492). It will focus on the scale and nature of how complex human societies transformed the environment, from the minimal impact of hunters to the influences of more complex societies.
The university’s Professor Jose Iriarte is leading an international team who is currently carrying on a comparative study of pre-Columbian land uses in four different regions of Amazonia. The research integrates experts from a wide range of disciplines, including archaeology, ethno-history, archaeo-botany, paleo-ecology, soil science, landscape ecology and remote sensing, including LiDAR.
The LiDAR technology, equipped to a Nauru UAV from XMobots, will explore the forest’s archaeological features below the canopy of trees in the middle of the Amazon. The first flight is due to take place in the fall.
The project is an international cooperation with Brazilian partners including the Federal University of Para, Belem; the National Institute of Space Research, Sao Jose; the National Institute of Amazonian Research, Manaus; and a European partner from the Gothenburg University, Sweden.